Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Mammogram – Early Detection is Your Breast Defense
When I emerged from the booth with my cape on, I lacked my super powers as well as my dignity. Perhaps because it was the changing closet in the hospital radiology department instead of a phone booth and the cape (held on by one well-worn Velcro tab) read “PROPERTY OF MERCY” instead of “S.”
One of those necessary evils of womanhood: the annual mammogram. As if gravity wasn’t doing a good enough job, the mammogram takes what little you do have and smushes it beyond recognition. For those of you who haven’t experienced one yet, those stories you’ve read and laughed over about comparing a mammogram to laying on the cold garage floor and having someone drive over your left one with the car or standing in the kitchen trying to close your boob in the refrigerator door is not so funny once you’ve actually been there done that.
It boggles the mind that a man can land on the moon, but the discomfort and humiliation of the “routine” mammogram doesn’t improve over time. You know you live in a small town when someone you know personally and not just as the nurse on duty is the one manipulating your breast on the Plexiglas table. Now you don’t just have small talk about the weather, but you can catch up on each other’s kids, the community, and the latest school board vote, all while you’re holding onto the handle of the X-ray machine and the corner of the table is being jammed into your armpit.
I’m so glad they keep a stack of out-dated magazines in the changing booths for something to occupy our time while we wait to see if we “smiled enough” in the pictures before getting dressed. At least the recipes are already ripped out.
Meanwhile, back in the doctor’s exam room… One of the most helpful resources to be placed in the physician’s office is surprisingly not the rack of pamphlets with descriptions and diagrams, but the three boobs that hang on the wall. No it’s not a sculpture of Larry, Moe, and Curly, but actual three-dimensional breasts. They are labeled: “no lumps, normal lumps, and lumps.” I just wonder who’s monitoring the hidden camera that captures those of us feeling up the silicone models. Actually, knowing the difference between an actual lump versus fibrous tissue can be very beneficial when doing that recommended self-exam. I highly encourage you to feel up—I mean, check out this wall hanging if your doctor’s office has one.
The follow-up letter stating the radiologist sees no abnormality is better than receiving a refund check from the IRS. It’s that dreaded phone call in-between; however, that one never wants to get stating they “need another view.” Then when another view leads to an ultrasound appointment “just to be sure,” and you start fearing the worst. In all seriousness, when the next recommendation becomes a biopsy, the nerves can really run high. The news sends you into a tailspin and makes you realize it can happen to anyone. Yes, it’s scary, and yes, I was just recently scared out of my mind, but thankfully the diagnosis for me was good news. If the news hadn’t been good, at least it would’ve been caught early. It’s best to schedule that uncomfortable appointment and be certain. Do it yearly.
Life is too short NOT to do self-exams and schedule the dreaded but necessary annual mammogram.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
No one would be kinder or braver than he -- Tomorrow.
A friend who was troubled and weary, he knew
Who'd be glad of a life--who needed it, too,
On him he would call and see what he could do -- Tomorrow.
Each morning he stacked up the letters he'd write--Tomorrow,
And thought of the folks he would fill with delight -- Tomorrow.
It was too bad, indeed, he was so busy today,
And hadn't one minute to stop on his way.
"More time I will have to give others," he'd say, "Tomorrow."
The greatest of workers this man would have been -- Tomorrow.
The world would have known him had he ever seen -- Tomorrow.
But, in fact, he passed on and he faded from view,
And all that he left here when living was through,
Was a mountain of things he intended to do -- Tomorrow.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
I was in the six-items-or-less express lane at the store quietly fuming. Completely ignoring the sign, the woman ahead of me had slipped into the checkout line pushing a cart piled high with groceries. Imagine my delight when the cashier beckoned the woman to come forward, looked into the cart and asked sweetly, "So, which six items would you like to buy?"
Because they had no reservations at a busy restaurant, my elderly neighbor and his wife were told there would be a 45-minute wait for a table. "Young man, we're both 90 years old, " the husband said. "We may not have 45 minutes." They were seated immediately.
Life's short. Never be too open-minded--your brains may fall out!!
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
"Life is too short to hang out with people that piss you off." Hmmmm...the stories I could write based on that one!! Instead I think I'll flip it around and post: Life's short...spend time with those who inspire and encourage.
A known fitness tip is to run with someone who's faster than yourself to be motivated to push harder. A similar concept is true with relationships. Optimism is contagious.
Life's short. Make a date with an optimist!
Friday, August 20, 2010
Sticky situation – From Paste to Glue Sticks
Why do we always see the kindergartner eating the paste? You couldn’t get this same child to eat beans, but paste…? Whose idea was paste anyway? The gloppy gunk on the end of the stick is not going to make the construction paper snowman look very attractive—more like a bumpy, bulgy abomination. Thank goodness paste was replaced by glue on the school’s supply list.
Now “glue” was useful for a lot more situations and a lot less messy. I remember the long rectangular indention in the old school desks that were used to keep the pencil in so it wouldn’t roll onto the floor. This same indention could be filled with glue and allowed to dry until you could peel it up and roll it into a bouncy ball. You could also dip your fingertips into the glue and let it dry and then amuse yourself and your friends by pulling the glue off like peeling off a layer of skin.
Rubber cement--now there was a dangerous compound!! The sniffing addiction alone was potentially lethal. Have you ever opened an old container of rubber cement? It eventually solidifies that brush-in-the-lid right to the bottom of the jar.
I tried spray adhesive once when matting a photograph. I don’t even want to discuss what got sticky besides the photo.
I’m betting a mom invented glue sticks—no gloppy, gunky mess to tantalize the toddler to taste; however, no way to create a body of water on a poster board for a geography project that will never completely dry either; no lethal odor, and it’s so easy to use. Even a mother can complete her child’s school project using a glue stick.
My favorite everyday adhesive is double-sided tape. Even glue sticks will eventually dry up and lose their effectiveness. We use to tease my sister-in-law that she must have stock in 3M because she would completely laminate a Christmas present in tape just to make it harder for the recipient to open. My father-in-law was given a t-shirt one year that said, “Given Enough Duct Tape, I Can Fix Anything.” That statement is absolutely true!! If not for practical purposes, tape can always be used for amusement as well. Some strategically placed tape on your face can make for some fun if you're bored. During the Y2K scare, we stocked up on bottled water, batteries, canned food and matches. But you can never have too much tape.
Life's too short to fall apart. Hold it together with the strength of the Lord (and some tape)!
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Open Says Me
Whatever did we do before this invention? The Amish certainly don’t care--they don't have electricity and the horse and the cart won’t go in the same shed anyway. But for those of us who have totally become dependent on a garage door opener, you would think the world was coming to an end when ours went on the fritz one day. After backing out of the driveway and pressing the remote button inside the car, the door inches its way down to a foot above the cement and then retreats back up as if the sensor was possessed and saw that there was something blocking it from closing completely. Pushing the button AGAIN, the door stops, and then pushing it AGAIN allows for the door to finish its descent. We go through this every winter. Why don’t I just call the overhead door company?? Because every spring, the door works as it’s supposed to, again.
My sister shared with me that the only time she recalls seeing grandma drive is when they would get to the garage at their house on the farm. Grandpa would hop out from the driver's seat to open the garage door and grandma would slide over from the front passenger’s seat and pull the car into the garage. I guess that's what some people did before the invention of the garage door opener.
Life's short. If the garage door is broken, get it fixed!
Saturday, July 3, 2010
Independence Day Devotional
“Can they stop now?” “I only like the color but not the noise.” These were the mutterings of my 7-year-old during our town’s Fourth of July fireworks show. I turned from the show to see my daughter with fingers in her ears and a grimace on her face yet watching the sky intently for the next burst of color.
It occurred to me then that our walk of faith is much like the traditional fireworks display. We may encounter some loud explosions and big bangs along the way which God allows for building our perseverance or due to the presence of sin in the world. But in the end, we can be assured that our eternal home will be breathtaking.
The chemistry responsible for the awesome bursts of stars and cascading streams of colors in a pyrotechnic event is complex and requires great care to make. This parallels the great care God took in making us. “So God created man in his own image.” Genesis 1:27. “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb…I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Psalm 139:13-14.
Some of life’s experiences will be more colorful and spectacular than others, and some will cause us pain. I wish there was an easy way to explain this to my young daughter, but I don’t always comprehend the reasons myself.
Leaning on the everlasting arms of God and trusting in the Holy Spirit are as much icons of the Christian life as are the American flag and fireworks of the Independence Day we celebrate in the
Life's short. Celebrate the good times and persevere through the bad.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Film and cameras – Watching What Developed
I have truly loved capturing the moment—especially my kids’ moments. You can always tell when a child is photographed often by the poise and charm they turn on the minute a camera comes out. Beginning with the box camera and the rolled film that had to be loaded into it—that’s how far back my own experience stretches. We’ve all seen the movies where the photographer got underneath a black cape attached to the camera and then a flash like an atom bomb goes off blinding the subject for days. Thankfully I wasn’t around for that. But my own knowledge of the progression of photography is nothing short of miraculous in terms of how far the automation of this art form has come.
Entering photos at the county fair using the box camera was a long process. Taking pictures until the roll was gone could sometimes take up to a month or more. Once the film was dropped off at the drugstore, I waited another week. Going back to the drugstore to retrieve the developed pictures was like waiting for Christmas to come. Hopefully there was at least one picture out of the roll of 12 or 24 that actually captured what I was hoping I saw. The negative of choice was taken back to the drugstore to be sent in for the enlargement, and then another week or more of waiting commenced. Matting the enlargement was the final touch before the achievement show in June and by then, I had at least two to three months invested in this one 4-H photo project. Procrastination was not an option back in those days.
My camera equipment thankfully improved over the years from the box camera, to the instamatic, to the 35mm; however, the film developing timeline didn’t change much. As a photographer for the high school yearbook, I had access to the school’s darkroom. I’m sure that room is a broom or storage closet today, but it was a magical room for me back then. Being able to develop my own film and watch the images come to life on the paper under the enlarger was like being a kid in the proverbial candy store. It was like taking the eggs, flour, and sugar and making them into a cookie—only I knew I had to be more patient with the developing chemicals then I was when I baked cookies.
The skills I learned in the darkroom at the high school enabled me to continue to make images appear before my eyes in the lab at the community college for the newspaper there. When overnight turnaround for film developing came on the scene, I was blown away. So you can imagine how one-hour film developing was absolutely the ultimate high in my photographic endeavors.
Enter digital photography. WOW!!! It was not only like taking the bread and slicing it, but packaging sliced, buttered bread and feeding it to me with grapes, wine and cheese while I lounged on a chaise. I could see my images immediately without waiting for developing time; I could delete unwanted pictures with a push of a button, fix the dreaded red-eye, and I could manipulate images on the computer screen and even print images out with my own printer. With all the advances in this field and the decreasing costs of digital cameras, there is no reason why everyone shouldn’t be pictorially recording their own histories.
Over the years, I have also come to appreciate that understanding the effects of lighting is almost as essential as keeping up with the advancing technology. The same subject can be radically changed by a different light source or lighting angle. Likewise, the same outlook on life can be radically changed by whether or not we’re letting our own light shine. If we’re a light unto the world, our subjects will be more likely to be receptive to us.
Life is short. Preserve it--record it with pictures.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Microwaves – Cooking with Radiation
Are microwaves actually curses disguised as blessings? I didn’t take that package of meat out of the freezer again. No problem. I’ll just nuke it up on the defrost setting, and supper can still be served before midnight.
Before microwaves, I had a hot dog cooker that revolutionized the wait of boiling up those wieners. Six hot dogs could be prepared at one time. Each end of the hot dog was impaled onto the pyramid-shaped spikes on either side of the appliance and the whole apparatus then slid inside the outer plastic case. A few arcs and sparks later, and the dogs were heated through in less than a minute with only a slight electrical taste.
Enter the microwave. The first ones weighed the same as a washing machine and were almost as large. They’ve evolved over the years—and heating, defrosting, and cooking times are cut in half at the very least. But at what cost? The consistency of some foods can take on a rubbery quality like that of overshoes and the hot spots are mysteriously troubling—not to mention harmful. Not only that, but what do we really know about the effects of the microwave’s radiation? There sure seem to be a lot more brain tumors reported since the invention of the microwave—or were there always that many, but now we hear about them with more frequency?
Nevertheless, the microwave is a time saver, and until proven guilty of causing brain tumors will probably be used unceasingly. Unfortunately the lost art of cooking on a stove with burners (as our ancestors did) may be part of the reason for the downfall of society—the crumbling of the family foundation to be more specific. Daughters and sons cooking side by side in the kitchen with their mothers (and fathers), in my opinion, is a necessary bonding and teaching time for developing healthy family relationships.
I’ve really digressed here, but suffice it to say that microwaves are a part of our lives that can be helpful in saving time, but must be used wisely and sparingly.
Life's too short NOT to use the microwave; but be sure to teach your children about the other appliances in your kitchen as well!
Monday, May 31, 2010
Corduroy Pillows are Making Headlines
What's Your Sleep Number?
I have spent from $50-$100 per pillow in search of that perfect head rest. Memory foam, eggshell foam, mystery foam—why is it so hard to find something to lay my head upon that will keep my neck aligned with my back so I don’t end up with a headache every morning?
When I was young, I would sleep on the floor in a sleeping bag—sometimes without any pillow at all. But the older I get, I find that a good night’s sleep is nothing but a dream. My first bed (after my crib with the inch-thick, plastic mattress) was a hand-me-down bed with a feather mattress. The box springs creaked and groaned, and the feathers grew flatter and less fluffy over time. When I got a place of my own, I purchased a waterbed—gallons and gallons of H20 in a rubber bladder. When the heater goes out in those things, you might as well be sleeping outside in a tent in December! Waterbeds are great unless—you have had too much to drink, have a bad back, or want to be able to get out of bed in the morning without getting wedged between the side rail and the water-filled mattress.
On the few occasions that I have had the privilege of spending some “quality” nights of sleep in a hospital bed, I find I’m forever pressing the buttons raising my head, lowering my head, raising my feet, lowering my feet just to try and find the perfect balance on that sterile rubber cushion… So when my husband suggested we look into the Select Comfort mattress, I immediately dismissed the idea knowing full well I would spend the entire sleepless night pressing the buttons. Additionally, I find I am unable to fall asleep if my feet are cold. I have warmed up my feet on my husband’s legs, but it takes a long time and sleep just eludes me over the fence with the sheep. I finally wised up and purchased an electric blanket. Thirty minutes before I go to bed, I turn on the electric blanket and can finally slide into a warm bed.
Life’s short—the nights are even shorter. Spend the money for a good pillow and mattress (and electric blanket) to assure that you wake up on the right side of the bed.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
No Match for this Batch
My lack of patience and need for instant gratification were most likely the reasons for my less than exemplary grades in Home Ec and Shop. (Today it is known as Family and Consumer Sciences and Industrial Arts). How boring is sanding, and who cares if I skip the coarse grade and go right to the finest grade? To sand to a baby’s bottom finish was more than exhaustive, and I frankly had better things to do. My wooden airplane, therefore, was not very aerodynamic with its rough surface and thus my skills as a carpenter never got off the ground.
While baking cookies in Home Ec was a basis for learning measurements and ingredients in the kitchen, the end result was more like cookie dough in a shell, as I just couldn’t wait the duration of the baking time for the cookies to be “done.” I still prefer warm cookie dough just out of the oven. My mom prefers to just leave the oven out of the equation all together and grab a spoon after the cookie dough is mixed.
Life's short. Eat cookie dough.
Sunday, May 2, 2010
Exercise – A four letter word (times two)
I used to tell people I didn’t exercise because of my beliefs. I explained that I believed in the limited heartbeat theory. I felt we were all born with a certain number of heartbeats. When your number is up—your number is up. I would go on to explain that exercise, of course, increases one’s heart rate, and I didn’t want to tempt fate. Better to be safe than in shape.
That was 30 years ago. Now that I'm older and wiser (and tipping the scale has taken on a whole new meaning), I've come to realize the necessity of physical activity and that staying in shape doesn't just happen naturally. I still don't think much time should be spent on the necessary evil of exercise, so I have found some very effective 20 minute-a-day workouts which done first thing in the morning gets it out of the way for the day. Yoga and walking are good forms of stress relief and should be done as needed in addition.
Life's short. Don't exercise until it becomes absolutely essential, and then don't obsess over it--just do it.